Georgia’s rematch against Alabama has political consequences, too – Atlanta Journal Constitution

MIAMI – Georgia’s dismantling of Michigan in the Orange Bowl sets up another college football championship game against Alabama on Jan. 10. It also presents a (welcomed) headache for state legislators.

That’s because the Georgia Legislature is constitutionally mandated to open its session on the second Monday of January — the same day as the title game, which will be held this year in Indianapolis.

But lawmakers are not constitutionally mandated to do anything of consequence on that day. And we don’t anticipate the two legislative chambers, packed with Georgia football fans from both sides of the aisle, to accomplish much after the session’s starting bell.

We’re told to expect House Speaker David Ralston — a die-hard Georgia football fan who plans to attend the game in Indianapolis — to gavel in the session around 8 a.m. Jan. 10 and quickly dispatch with some formalities before gaveling out.

Several state Senate leaders told us the chamber plans a “get out quick” day, as well, for the state legislators who are planning to attend the game.

That also means lawmakers are likely to skip Tuesday, though the schedule won’t be formalized until both chambers agree on the timing. There’s also a chance legislators convene on Tuesday, though little work is expected to get done.

The regular schedule will continue Wednesday, when the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast is held in the morning. On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp will deliver his annual State of the State speech to shape the agenda for the 40-day session.

State lawmakers have been in this situation before — and it also involved a Georgia-Alabama matchup.

That memorable game was played on Jan. 8, 2018, which was also the first day of the legislative session. But because the game was held in Atlanta, lawmakers transformed the proceedings into a pep rally for the Bulldogs.

Ralston waved a red pompom from the dais. The state Senate adjourned for the day by “Calling the Dawgs.” And House members watched red-and-black highlight reel from the chamber floor.

That night, then-President Donald Trump was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers as he took the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the national anthem. And Georgia lost a nail-biter overtime game against Alabama.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor’s office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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